IPR Civil Rights Report for Fall 2015

During Fall 2015, the Civil Rights Section of IPR filed four lawsuits in federal district court; continued to litigate five other cases and successfully resolved two of them; filed three amicus briefs; represented a public interest organization in third-party discovery and a worker’s center in a claw back matter; successfully resolved a client’s wage payment claim without litigation; and researched several potential voting rights matters.

We filed suit under both Title IX and common law theories on behalf of a student whose university failed to respond appropriately to the stalking and harassment she suffered at the hands of another student. We sued the Department of Veterans’ Affairs under the Administrative Procedure Act on behalf of a group of veterans seeking records that they need to apply for veteran’s benefits. We also brought a case under the Family and Medical Leave Act on behalf of a worker who took leave to care for her comatose husband and was terminated one week after beginning her leave. Finally, we filed a Section 1983 action against the DC police for seizing our client’s van and tools and continuing to hold his property for over a year even though the police had completed their search for evidence. After filing our lawsuit, we were able to secure the return of the van and tools, and the litigation continues in an effort to recover damages.

The Civil Rights section successfully resolved two cases that were in active litigation throughout the semester – one a wage theft case on behalf of an employee of a government subcontractor and the other a pregnancy discrimination case on behalf of an individual who was denied lactation breaks because she was a gestational surrogate. In the latter case, we obtained a published decision denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss and establishing that legal protections for lactating women apply regardless of surrogacy status. We continued to litigate two cases under the Freedom of Information Act, and we filed a claim in Bankruptcy Court in an effort to collect a judgment that we previously obtained for a client in a wage theft case.

The Civil Rights section of IPR also engaged in an active amicus practice. We filed two amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, one on behalf of a group of information privacy law scholars and the other on behalf of public employee union. In the Eleventh Circuit, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of two public interest groups in a case challenging the dilution of Black voting strength in Sumter County, Georgia.

Finally, IPR defended the third-party deposition of a national consumer rights organization and successfully invoked associational privilege under the First Amendment, and we represented a worker’s center in connection with an attempt by the government to claw back documents previously released to the organization. We successfully demanded money owed our client by a former employer who failed to pay wages on time, and we investigated several potential voting rights cases involving a variety of issues, including minority vote dilution under the Voting Rights Act, felon disenfranchisement, fair apportionment under the Equal Protection clause, and state compliance with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act.

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